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Meghan wrote ‘Daddy’ in leaked letter to ‘pull at heartstrings’, court hears

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Meghan Markle's claims a letter she sent to father Thomas Markle was private and for his eyes only have been proved "false" by texts she sent to a royal aide, the Court of Appeal heard today.

The Duchess of Sussex's denials that she cooperated with the authors of Finding Freedom, the controversial biography that made allegations about the Sussexs' relationship with the Royal Family, were "contradicted" by evidence from her former communications chief, Jason Knauf, it is alleged.

The publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), yesterday began its challenge of a High Court judgement that found their decision to publish Meghan's 2018 letter was "unlawful".

Meghan successfully sued the Mail on Sunday for making parts of the handwritten note public, which she insists was private correspondence sent to her estranged father.

But the publisher told the Court of Appeal there is new evidence that shows the privacy case had been based on a "false premise", Metro reports.

Andrew Caldecott QC, for ANL, told judges that the new evidence from Jason Knauf, in the form of texts, raises questions about Meghan’s "credibility’".

Jason Knauf provided a witness statement to court, which the Mail on Sunday's publisher argued proves the Duchess knew the letter was likely to be published, The Telegraph reports.

In texts read out in court, the Duchess said: "Obviously everything I've drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked, so I have been meticulous in my word choice. But please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability."

A second reads: "Given I've only ever called him Daddy, it may make sense to open as such despite him being less than paternal. And in the unfortunate event that it leaked, it would pull at the heart strings."

Caldecott argued the letter "was written with public consumption in mind as a possibility".

He told the court that Mr Knauf’s new evidence allegedly proves she had personally co-operated with the authors of Finding Freedom, which she had previously denied.

Caldecott said: "The fundamental point turns out to be false on the new evidence. The letter was crafted specifically with the potential of public consumption in mind".

ANL also claimed that Thomas Markle was in his right to reveal the contents of the letter in order to "correct some inaccuracies" contained in an article in People magazine.

The People magazine article was published five days before ANL's five articles and featured an interview with five friends of Meghan who spoke about the same note.

He said: "The claimant’s letter and the People article both make allegations against Mr Markle of cruelly cold-shouldering the claimant in the pre-wedding period… The article, or its gist, was reported worldwide.

"We say there was a difference between what Mr Markle said and what he was presented as saying."

He concluded: "The defendant submits it has a strongly arguable case that by the time of the publication of the articles, the claimant no longer had a reasonable expectation of privacy of the text of the letter."

But The Duchess of Sussex has said she did not think her estranged father would leak a handwritten letter from her “because it would not put him in a good light”.

In her written evidence to the Court of Appeal, Meghan denied she thought it likely that Thomas Markle would leak the document, but had prepared for the possibility.

She said: “While we had to recognize that anything was possible in the extraordinary circumstances in which we were living and therefore the need to mitigate against the risks of disclosure of the letter’s contents, I did not think that my father would sell or leak the letter, primarily because it would not put him in a good light.”

“The main purpose of the letter was to encourage my father to stop talking to the press.

“To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published, and wanted to ensure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimised, were it to be exploited.”

  • Meghan Markle
  • Prince William
  • Royal Family
  • London

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